Are you a fan of B-movies and/or MMA? If your answer is “no” to both of those, chances are you’re not going to like Fight Valley. But if you enjoy either of them and have reasonable expectations when it comes to the acting skills of MMA fighters and the writer-director who wanted to make a movie starring them, then you might just get a kick out of this new film. Why do I care? Because there be badass lesbians here.
While none of the big name MMA fighters in the movie (Miesha Tate, Holly Holm and Cris “Cyborg”) play gay, that’s totally okay because they can’t act. Well, to be fair, Tate does outshine some of the professional actors in the film, but that didn’t take a lot of doing. Instead, we’re given Tory (Chelsea Durkalec), her girlfriend Duke (Erin O’Brien) and their friend Jamie (Cabrina Collesides). There are almost certainly more queer ladies in the film, but I wouldn’t want to assume…
Anyway, the movie starts off with what it does best: throwing down some killer music. By the time the opening credits are over, one woman’s pummeled another into a bloody pulp while a crowd watches (yup, it’s going to be that kind of movie). A year later, she’s getting fired from her ice packing job, jumping into a sweet muscle car and picking up her friends to seek street justice. Our leading lady, right? Apparently not.
The next scene sees two women fighting for money, with the winner taking home only $50 because the men at the top of this scheme set the reward amounts. Suddenly our winner’s surrounded by her concerned/pissed off friends and her girlfriend. Duke tells Tory that she doesn’t want to see her head get smashed in, but admits the bruises look sexy on her. I personally think anyone who reminds me that much of Eliza Dushku is sexy.
So why all the fighting? Because making it on the mean streets of Camden, New Jersey is tough. Naturally, Tory wants to make the big bucks, but she’s got to train and fight her way up to them. In our ice packer, Jabs (Miesha Tate), she sees a mentor. Sadly for our baby dyke, Jabs isn’t having any of that.
At least she’s got Duke. Like around the clock. The two live together in Tory’s dad’s basement, who’s a sweetheart despite being rough around the edges and a bit of a fuck up. Still, Tory wants more for herself and Duke. She knows there’s a hard fight that might get her that, but before resorting to it, she calls up her older sister Windsor (Susie Celek) for help. Windsor, however, won’t give her the cash she needs. She’ll live to regret it when Tory shows up dead six weeks later.
I know, I know–another dead lesbian. But also, who’s our leading lady then? It turns out it’s going to be the sister.
Windsor, who has carved out a pretty cozy life for herself since her parents separated, comes to Camden for her sister’s funeral. It’s there she meets Duke for the first time, who she clearly thought was a man up until that point. Obviously Tory thought she’d be a bit weird about the gay thing, a hunch Windsor proves right later.
In any case, Windsor came to town with more than just her sister’s funeral in mind. She wants to find out who did this and seek revenge. Duke and the girls might just be able to help, but only if she stops being such a princess.
It turns out Tory’s body was found by the river with obvious signs that she’d been fighting. Not knowing that her sister was a fighter or that her friends were part of that world as well, Windsor gets super judgmental. Duke is quick to call her out on it: “She was our best friend. My life.”
She goes on to tell her that Tory struggled to feed herself, had suicidal thoughts and finally lays down the guilt card: Windsor wouldn’t help her when she needed her. It all just serves to light a fire under her ass and convince Windsor that revenge really is the only option.
So for the time being, Windsor’s going to live at her dad’s place with Duke, who was allowed to continue living there no questions asked. It’s not Windsor’s usual hangout–one of the funniest moments in the film is when Duke and her friends clarify that no, they’re not all lesbians, and they’re definitely not all doing each other. Although if Jamie has her way, she might just teach Windsor a thing or two.
But what Windsor really has to learn right now is how to fight. When you combine that with her trying to sniff out information in a neighborhood she knows nothing about, it’s no surprise she gets her ass kicked. Duke getting hospitalized, however, is a casualty that’s harder to swallow.
Seeing all the damage that’s happened while she just stood by and watched, Jabs finally steps in to help the Knock-Around Girls (their crew name) and train Windsor. Cue a The Karate Kid-like montage of Windsor punching giant ice blocks and buckets filled with gravel. Does Windsor become a ridiculously good fighter like super fast? You know she does!
And now her goals have changed. It’s not just a fight she wants; now she wants to kill. When Duke, Jamie and their other friend Yanni (Kari J. Kramer) object to her new plans, she decides to go ahead with Jabs as her only source of support. But can she really trust her? All I’ll say is the film ends with a twist, but still closes off rather anticlimactically.
You know, I wish there had been a bit more of Tory and Duke together because the two really did love each other. And they were hot together, even if that one brief sex scene was clearly meant for the male gaze. A Tory/Duke prequel is definitely something I’d be interested in, but instead there’s a sequel currently in the works. Yes, for real.
Fight Valley is out in theaters and on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Playstation, Vudu, Google Play and cable broadcast. Visit the movie’s website for more information.